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Progressive Rock CD Reviews

Flash

Featuring Ray Bennett & Colin Carter

Review by Gary Hill

This disc is likely to make my list of “best of 2013.” It really does capture the classic Flash sound. And, considering Peter Banks (original Flash guitarist who passed away this year) isn’t here, that says a lot. There are a lot of different sounds and styles here. If you’ve ever liked Flash, this is sure to please. If you’ve not heard them, it would be a great introduction. It’s really a great CD, no matter how you look at it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 4 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Night Vision

A high energy jam opens this and we’re taken through a number of changes with some definite symphonic elements at play. Then, after the one minute mark, it drops to an acoustic guitar based section. The vocals come in over the top of that and it really does feel like classic Flash. The vocal harmonies are great. We’re taken through a number of changes as this roller coaster ride works through. There are some great retro keyboard textures at times and this really takes me back to the 1970s in so many ways.

Hurt

This comes in slower moving, but every bit as cool. It moves forward building on some great riffing. Then it explodes out into even better riff driven sections. This is another bit of real magic. As the lyrics come in, the recognition hits. This is actually a cover of the Nine Inch Nails tune that was also covered by Johnny Cash. This version is great, but very different from either of those other renditions. This is definitely progressive rock. It also manages to capture a lot of the magic from the original song. Later they take it to some fast paced jamming with definite bits of symphonic elements in the mix. Then a cool rubbery jam eventually ensues. It drops back to the verse section after a while. Eventually we’re taken out into some more killer progressive rock exploration from there.

Something So Dark

As this opens it has a real psychedelic rock. It works out from there into more Flash like prog jamming. They drop it down for a short time to something that feels a bit like Pink Floyd. The changes continue, though as the track evolves from there. There’s almost a blues rock vibe as the vocals enter. The rubbery bass line that wanders along the backdrop at times is quite cool. This has some bits of funk in it at times. When it powers out of that mellower movement I’m really reminded of Jefferson Airplane for a time. It soars into some triumphant progressive rock from there. The tune keeps shifting and changing in fine fashion after that. There’s some cool melodic guitar soloing later and this ride really is a great one.

Manhattan Morning

There’s a bit of a flourish at the start, but the cut emerges as a mellow and slow moving piece. It’s a cool rock ballad approach with some definite folk rock in the mix. It builds out organically. This stays more or less in that same mellow, straightforward approach throughout. The thing is, it would normally not work all the well, but in this case, it presents a sea of tranquility amidst the frantically changing stuff here.

Into the Sun
Speaking of frantically changing stuff, some of this makes me think of early King Crimson. At times it’s quite fusion oriented. It’s steadily moving and changing. It’s incredibly strong. There are some awesome riffs here and this is just plain awesome. It drops back later to a spacey little jam that’s quite cool. We’re taken through a number of changes beyond that point. It’s another cool piece of music.
Grand Canyon

Expansive progressive rock opens this and builds outward. It grows into a more rocking kind of prog jam. There’s more of a 1970s rock, perhaps like Humble Pie mixed with the classic prog sounds we’re used to from Flash here. It’s another good tune that shows a different side of the sound and musical vision.

Morpheum

Layers of synthesized texture dance around the outside as a space rock kind of groove drives this. It drops way down from there and then works tentatively back upwards. It drives out for some fusion styled guitar soloing from there. It’s quite a cool instrumental.

10,000 Movies

Including some killer riffing, this jam is high energy and quite tasty. It’s a bit more constant than some of the music here, but it’s also one of the shorter tracks. The vocal hooks are among the catchiest, too.

Richerd of Venice

This reasonably short instrumental is quite pretty and has some nice changes.

 
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